I'm going to put it straight out there, Northland looks an awful lot like Scotland; beautiful mountains meet fine sandy beaches, small towns give way to hidden treasures and the roads are basically crap. However, there are some distinctly Kiwi characteristics - although the weather is still unpredictable, it tends to err the side of hot rather that Baltically cold.
I know, I know, this all sounds familiar. Didn't I say that about the Coromandel? But it's true; there are distinct similarities to be drawn, However, the small coves and towns are what brings Northland into its own. And the people. Northies are good folk.
Once again, kudos to those who submitted places I should see, including Piri Weepu - Matauri Bay is not one to miss. Stunning. And I met two English lasses there who have essentially become part of my convoy whilst travelling, which is nice. It was interesting actually being told not to bother with Cape Reinga by locals - I'll never know what I missed, but what I found instead was pretty spectacular. And that's part of the fun - you don't have to follow the tourist trail in Northland to find some pretty spectacular scenery up here and not feel like your missing out.
The DOC has clearly been working hard up North, with plenty of sites to stay in - also, there are a lot of options around, which I must confess the map Mighty gave me has been very good at pointing out. Of course, you get the occasionally Top Ten Holiday Park (generally expensive and to be avoided), but you get a feel for it.
On that note, Campermate, an iPhone app I was asked to test out whilst on my travels, has basically been crap. The only times it has worked properly has been when I've been in the centre of town, when I probably could have found the petrol station myself anyway.
Anyway, rant over, as Northland really is too nice to have gripes in. Dramatic, eerie in places - particularly when you've been asked to stay with a buddhist ex paratrooper - and surrounded by places off the beaten track. Which, with a bed right behind my driving seat, I can go explore no bother.
Written by: Dan Castro
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The Mighty crew